I absolutely love this story and I’m so glad to introduce it to you….and to introduce you to three brave champions of free speech fighting in one of the most inhospitable free speech climates on the planet: the College Campus.
What was once a bastion of free speech and the vigorous debate of competing ideas has now become a sewer of elitism and intolerance for any ideas not in total alignment with Far Left Wokeism.
But three brave students are fighting back and I am so excited to shine a spotlight on what they are doing….
Meet Spencer, Adam and Isabella:
Together they’ve formed MIT Students for Open Inquiry (MSOI).
Their mission is to spread free speech by platforming dissidents and heterodox thinkers.
I have always said that a critical step in taking back our country is for good people to speak up!
We’ve been bullied into silence, shamed that if we dare speak up about conservative values that we’ll be shunned by friends, family and coworkers!
But Democracy dies in silence, and the truth is there are likely FAR MORE people who agree with conservative values but they have also been shunned and shamed and scared into silence!
We need good people to speak up and speak out!
And especially good students on University campuses nationwide!
Recently, they brought in Ron Paul Republican and Trump supporter Hirsh Singh, where he delivered a talk on his political journey and policy opinions.
According to an email from Deng, a trans group tried to cancel him, but they successfully defended Hirsh.
The newly-established MIT Students for Open Inquiry (MSOI) began its crusade to spread free speech with “Hirsh Singh: A Political Odyssey” on Tuesday, November 14th. Singh, a lifelong Republican and a self-described “nerd from New Jersey” with a “background in engineering”, delivered an insightful talk to a group of students, teachers, and alumni on politics from the inside, lessons learned, and his personal journey, from college inspiration to taking action.
Singh said former House Representative Ron Paul and the Mises Institute, an Austrian economics center, spurred his political involvement. He affirmed the importance of defending economic liberty and America’s founding values. Singh chose politics because “I love this country with all my heart, and I believe this country can do so much more than what has been going on”, and supported free expression: “Even if someone says something that I absolutely disagree with, I believe in the concept of letting them express it so that I can understand what I might not understand. If new information presents itself that…calls into question what I believe, I will take it under consideration and always adapt and change to be right.”
The talk included theoretical and experiential wisdom. Singh balanced hope and action, noting “You can’t actually fix the world or move it in the right direction if you’re operating from the standpoint of idealism. Idealism should be the guardrails, but you have to take what the current situation is into hand before you start actually adjusting it.” On money, he opined, “Yes, you need money for being involved in the game, but money doesn’t win anything, because you’re not convincing people by throwing money at them.”
To the youth, he conveyed a sense of gaining solidity: “If you have interest in really being political, go and dive deep into each policy issue so you can understand what you believe, because you’re not going to convince anyone else unless you’re speaking from your own personal conviction.” Singh recounted his own experiences: “When you’re young, you think you know everything, and only through going through that wringer do you actually become more capable of understanding how the world really works.” A final reassurance came with self-confidence: “Make sure you know why you stand where you stand, because if they come at you with gotcha questions, at least you know you’re standing on your own two feet.”
A Q&A session followed, in which many attendees of different perspectives asked diverse questions for Singh. The most common topic was foreign policy: Russia-Ukraine and China-Taiwan. Singh was “very much so opposed to continuing aggression in the Ukraine space” and did not want to “send American sons and daughters over to Ukraine to die.” But Taiwan, which he called “very different”, saw Singh advocate for “show[ing] firm resolve that under no circumstances are we going to allow [China] to take Taiwan. And if they understand that, then they’re not going to threaten [Taiwan’s] future.”
Singh assessed the American economy and its competition, and was “not threatened by [China’s belt and road initiative]. I actually think that we just need to bring manufacturing more back to the U.S. for core issues, and allow for diversified economic utilization of factories.” When asked about labor, Singh zoomed in on his home state and drew a nuance in unionization: “New Jersey is a very union state, and I would say that…it’s such an expensive state and…you have a bureaucratic overstep because of the unions having superior power, which is baked in the cost of a lot of things and has disconnected the original intent. So, I’m pro union worker more so than pro union.”
No MIT Students for Open Inquiry event is complete without—as the name implies—touching some taboos; when asked what the most forbidden topics in academia were, Singh’s two answers were the covid vaccine—”forcing someone to inject themselves with something that has not been fully tested or something you have a particular doubt about is anathema to America”—and questioning the 2020 election. Critically, Singh argued for free speech on third rail topics: “Whenever you try to limit someone’s speech, the bad ideas don’t disappear. They go under, and they get uglier, and they get worse.” The MSOI commends him for defending free speech.
Disagreements arose when a trans advocacy group sent an email to MIT undergrads suggesting a cancellation, saying Singh would bring “harm” and “discomfort.” The MSOI repelled these attacks on open inquiry and stood its ground, concluding the dialogue with an apt “Thank you for your free speech!” The exchange is available at the MSOI’s website, here.
Overall, the event was a big success, an intellectual stream of politics and observations, with civil discussion and audience viewpoint diversity notable. The MSOI has established a beachhead for uncommon opinions on academia’s soil, especially right-wing ones, as it continues the campaign for free speech at the math and tech capital of the world.Advertisement
The MSOI’s fall semester is packed with diverse speakers on diverse topics. Their events can be viewed here. The MSOI next invites Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, MIT ’87 inventor of email, systems scientist, and Independent presidential candidate to the stage.
MSOI’s founding seems to have been spurred on by the Professor Dorian Abbot cancellation.
Cancel culture struck, but in addition to just cancelling a voice it didn’t like, this time it created something new….MSOI.
The MIT Free Speech Alliance has more on the infamous cancellation:
Professor Dorian Abbot of the University of Chicago was invited to give the prestigious John Carlson Lecture at MIT, on the topic of the habitability of planets outside our Solar System. It was scheduled for October 21, 2021. Throughout September that year, a Twitter campaign built to get him uninvited. On September 30, MIT told Professor Abbot that it was canceling his lecture.
Why was Abbot disinvited?
In 2020 Prof. Abbot made Youtube videos advocating to treat people as individuals and hiring them on that basis rather than on group identity. Then on August 12, 2021 Abbott published an op-ed in Newsweek advocating Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) in place of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for faculty hiring and promotion. A Twitter campaign was begun to get him disinvited from giving lectures at other universities. In late September, a group of MIT grad students, postdocs, and recent alumni demanded on Twitter that he be disinvited. Eight days later, the lecture was cancelled. The disinvitation was announced by Professor Robert van der Hilst, head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences (EAPS). As the New York Times put it (quoted in a Reason article which is open-access):
He stressed that he talked to senior officials at M.I.T. before deciding to cancel the lecture. “It was not who shouted the loudest,” Dr. van der Hilst said. “I listened very carefully.”
Dr. van der Hilst speculated that Black students might well have been repelled if they learned of Dr. Abbot’s views on affirmative action. This lecture program was founded to explore new findings on climate science and M.I.T. has hoped to attract such students to the school. He acknowledged that these same students might well in years to come encounter professors, mentors even, who hold political views at odds with their own.
“Those are good questions but somewhat hypothetical,” Dr. van der Hilst said. “Freedom of speech goes very far but it makes civility difficult.”
The Implications of the Cancellation
MIT’s disinvitation of Professor Abbot was widely covered, including by the New York Times, Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the London Daily Mail. It was often noted that the disinvitation was a new low in university suppression of free speech: Abbot was disinvited not because of what he was going to say in his lecture, but because of his opinions expressed in unrelated writing.
According to Twitter, the group has also invited Steve Kirsch to come speak:
MIT invited me to give a talk in my auditorium. Previously, all of my requests were refused because they couldn’t find a faculty sponsor. I expect that this talk will be extremely well attended. pic.twitter.com/z7Xo7XgpcJ
— Steve Kirsch (@stkirsch) November 3, 2023
Of course that led to instant “reeeee-ing” from the Far Left as many were appalled at his invitation.
One reply from Twitter felt compelled to point out it was not MIT who invited him but a Student Group, to which Kirsch rightly points out that it’s likely MIT still had to approve it.
MIT had to approve it.
Do you have a problem with that?
Would you like to chat in a twitter space?
or do you prefer to insult people at a distance.
— Steve Kirsch (@stkirsch) November 4, 2023
The ultimate irony is Steve Kirsch would be speaking in his “own” Auditorium!
And not even welcome by most on the far-left campus:
Which only underscores the absolute importance of MSOI.
The MSOI Charter reads as follows:
We support and affirm the MIT Free Expression Statement, as well as the Chicago Principles. We further believe you have a right to offend, and no right to be free from offense; a right to be wrong, and no right or expectation that you will be shielded from views you dislike.Advertisement
But a statement of rights is not enough. The MSOI is here to put these rights into action.
As MIT students, we are uniquely positioned to challenge the prevailing censorship-educational complex. The youth are MIT and America’s future. Will we let the Institute and the country be run by censorious tyrants, or by defenders of our heritage of liberty and free thinking?
It is a lonely fight. Very few organizations have the gall to challenge an establishment that demands obedience and punishes dissent. But we’ve decided that it is better to fight enforced ideological orthodoxy and suffer the consequences than live under its shadow with our careers secure, but our spirit and ideals crushed.
To this end, we will identify, expose, and neutralize the censorship-industrial complex and the stultifying groupthink it has imposed on us. We will host guest speakers who are anathema to the establishment and invite students, professors, and alumni to engage with them. We will hold student meetings, rallies, and debates to challenge our classmates to question authority and open their minds to heterodox thoughts. We will write our own news to showcase our events, spread the word, and encourage universities to embrace open inquiry.
We are determined to secure a beachhead on what has become hostile academia territory and to be the pioneers and inspiration for future free speech fighters. We will instigate the demise of the current regime of censorship and compelled speech. And we will WIN.
But I would expect nothing less from MIT students.
Too bad the professors and administrators are so far gone they don’t share similar sensibilities.
But if you have ever feared for the future of our nation, understand that three brave and wise students created this organization to fight back in favor of FREE SPEECH and FREE AND OPEN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS, while the professors and administration sink farther and farther into intolerance and irrelevance.
It is students like this and free thinkers like this that can propel not only our Universities but also our Country to prominence!
Keep up the good fight MSOI, we’re rooting you on from afar!